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Think of a time when you headed into a prospect meeting and just knew it was going to go well – the proverbial “slam dunk.” You were armed with every fact and figure the prospect could possibly need to see the value of your firm’s services. It simply wasn’t possible for them to say “No.” Any rational person would see your well-organized, fact-filled presentation and move forward to becoming a client.

Then they said “No.” No matter what you said you could not get them to move forward.

How did you feel? Shocked? Dumbfounded?

This situation plays out over and over every day in all areas of life. I’m guessing it’s happened to you, more than once. It plays out most frequently in sales. Sales people heap facts upon figures on top of other facts to show how much better their product or service is versus the competition. Yet, these situations are bound to fail because decisions are not made logically, they are made emotionally.

Acclaimed neuroscientist Antonio Damasio of the University of Southern California conducted research several years ago that highlighted the importance of emotions in decision making. In his book, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, Damasio profiled one of his patients, “Elliott,” who experienced damage to the area of his brain that controlled emotion. In all other respects “Elliott” was completely normal. Actually, he was a bit more than normal. “Elliott” still ranked in the 97th percentile in IQ, however, due to his damaged brain he did not feel or experience emotion the way a normal person did. Damasio noticed that his lack of emotion severely impacted “Elliott’s” ability to make decisions. Even the smallest decisions were nearly impossible – choosing where to eat lunch took all afternoon, making an appointment would take 30 minutes or more, even choosing which color pen to use to write was an agonizing process.

Damasio’s research shed tremendous light on decision making. At the actual point of making a decision, even for people who are otherwise very technically inclined, their emotions take over and play the most critical role. No emotional connection between the prospect and becoming a client most often means they will choose not to become a client.

How do you make this emotional connection? I’m glad you asked.

The first, and most simple, way to emotionally connect with a prospect or client is to be “human.” Practice and perfect your ability to tell stories. Most importantly, stories that make you “human.” Why did you get into the business you’re in (what personal, emotional factors led you to this industry or job)? What work have you done for other clients, that is relevant to this prospect, and how did that client FEEL when the work was completed? Step out of your technical comfort zone and tell stories, become more “human,” and you will begin to connect more deeply with your prospects and clients.

The second way to create a strong emotional connection to your prospects and clients is to engage their emotional brain from the very beginning of your relationship by using an Emotionally Intelligent Client Engagement System. I use a two step process that will allow you to uncover those aspects of your prospects’ lives that are the most important drivers of their decisions. You will understand what fills their Heart, what is top of Mind, and what enriches their Soul. Connecting your services to these emotional drivers of their lives will demonstrate to prospects how you understand and support what is most important to them, along with providing them the confidence they need when making such a meaningful decision.

I’ll be right up front in saying that this type of process is very counter-intuitive. It does not involve a typical checklist of things to go over in a discovery meeting, nor is it something you can send to prospects and have them fill it out before you sit down. It requires you to practice and perfect the skills that make you a true professional – listening, empathy, and client-centeredness. Without those skills, and constant work at improving them, initiating this type of system will not generate its maximum impact. An emotionally intelligent client engagement system will make many people (actually, most people) very uncomfortable because it is unorthodox and takes them away from their technical comfort zone.

Why relegate yourself to the same results everyone else gets from using the age-old discovery/presentation approach? With practice, commitment, and flexibility becoming a better story teller and using an emotionally intelligent client engagement system has the ability to significantly improve your client relationships and your success rate in closing business – a true WIN-WIN!


Drew was drawn to the financial services industry while in high school. He was fortunate to be mentored by a prominent local business executive in one of his first teenage jobs. During that same time he learned of the costly financial mistakes that several family members made over the years. These experiences prompted his fascination with gaining the knowledge and insight to help both family and others to avoid financial pitfalls and more successfully achieve financial well-being.

Drew earned his MBA and BS degrees from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He spent 20 years in various leadership roles at the Capital Group/American Funds to include developing and leading an institutional analysis and business development group as well as forming and leading American Funds’ RIA and Bank Trust distribution efforts nationally. Drew spent the following four years running the strategic, growth, and business development efforts for a multi-billion dollar RIA in Southern California.

He is an engaging speaker and consultant helping wealth advisors and investment managers execute growth strategies. His ability to develop business development strategies, implement focused sales processes, and effectively coach teams led to consistent high-level organic sales growth throughout his career.

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